Skip to content

Wellington County bulldog goes Hollywood ... well, sort of

A country girl at heart, Ruby Red, an English Bulldog from just outside Mount Forest, has starred in her first commercial for Pet Valu

Ruby Red’s her name and acting is her newfound game.

The English bulldog from just outside Mount Forest is used to country life. But recently, the one-year-old left her quiet abode for a starring role in a national commercial for Pet Valu.

“We live on four acres between Mount Forest and Durham. My dogs are out in the pond, in the mud and all that fun stuff. Ruby’s just a dirt road dog in the country,” said Ruby’s owner, Gordon Townsend.

“So, it was really great for a dog in our area to be up against some big city dogs and get the role in this commercial.”

Townsend has four dogs, including Ruby.

“I have two English bulldogs, a mastiff mix and a schnoodle, so it’s quite the crew,” he said.

But signing Ruby up with a talent agency wasn’t exactly what Townsend had in mind for her.

“It was just one of those ‘going down the rabbit hole’ kind of days, searching online. I actually thought my dog Ali would make a great animal actor. So we contacted an agency, Furry People Productions, and since then, we put Ruby Red up too,” Townsend said.

“We have another Bull dog, Lola, that just turned one last month. So we now have three dogs (they) represent.”

Based in Mississauga, the animal actor agency has wrangled dogs, cats and critters for the entertainment industry for over 35 years.

But Ruby wasn’t chosen simply for her stunningly stocky build and irresistible ‘sour mug’ smile.

“She had to do a few audition tapes. For me, being new to this, I had no experience. On Feb. 3, Furry People Productions asked if we might be interested in a commercial. Of course, we said yes,” Townsend said.

On Feb. 5, Pet Valu narrowed down the selection to three dogs.

“The next day, Ruby was asked to do an audition video in a pet store. So, we took her to Roc 'n' Dukes in Mount Forest. It was just a quick video to see how her personality was. So we did the video and sent it over,” Townsend said.

“On Feb. 11, we found out Ruby was in the top two. And then we were asked to do another audition video at the Pet Valu in Hanover.”

A few days later, Townsend received the great news.

“They had selected Ruby for the role in the commercial. So, yes, I am one proud pup parent,” he said.

During filming on Feb. 27, Ruby worked with Furry People Productions owner and wrangler Tamara Conway, who has trained animals in the industry for over 35 years.

“As far as seeing how Ruby and Tamara interacted, it was so special. What Tamara can bring out in dogs is just incredible. And I also found it helpful in terms of some training tips we can use at home,” Townsend said.

“Ruby Red had no acting experience prior to this. But the agency always emphasizes fun and safety. Tamara worked with Ruby for the whole shoot. It was about a four-hour day."

Townsend said he was very impressed with how Ruby performed as far as staying on her mark and with the actions that were expected of her.

“Between her and our other English bulldog Lola, Ruby would probably be the one that would sit at the front of the class, she would get As on tests, would ask if there’s homework because none had been assigned,” Townsend said.

“For me, it was neat to see. It was a lot of fun to be on the other side of the camera and see how many people are involved in producing a commercial. It was real surprise to me."

Townsend was thrilled to finally see the commercial air on April 1.

“It was funny when we first saw it. We didn’t know when it would be out. My mom called. She said that she and my dad were watching curling, and then the commercial just came on,” he said.

“After I saw it, Ruby was all over YouTube. Then, she was on Pet Valu’s Facebook page, Instagram, on the Food Network, TSN and Global. It was really neat that for her first gig, Ruby was in a pretty big commercial.”

When she as just a puppy, Townsend brought Ruby home from his cousin Sue Black who operates SUJO Bullies. Based in Clifford, Black offers breeding programs for English and French bulldogs in Canada and provides adoption, fostering and re-homing services.

Growing up just off of Highway 6 by Fergus, Townsend said he’s so proud of Ruby.

“Living out in the country, it’s just really nice to go out for a walk in Mount Forest, and everybody smiles when they see Ruby and Lola coming,” Townsend said.

“These dogs are family.”

Townsend hopes another acting gig will come along for Ruby and possibly even for Ali and Lola in the future.

“Furry People Productions, they are quite a big brand, so if you see a commercial, movie or TV series, they will probably have their paws involved in all of it," he said.

For her first acting role, Townsend says Ruby was a star.

“But the end of the day, she just wants to cuddle, she loves people, and loves to please. She’s just a sweet, sweet soul.” 

Reader Feedback

Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community
Read more